Saskatoon

Sunday storm in Saskatoon could be comparable to 2007 blizzard, meteorologist says

Officials are recommending Saskatoon residents stay at home as much as possible on Sunday as a forecasted blizzard rolls into the city.

‘It has the makings to be a very significant storm': Environment Canada's Terry Lang

Ten to 12 centimeters of snow is expected in Saskatoon on Saturday, with an additional 20-30 cm expected to fall Sunday. (Bridget Yard/CBC News)

Saskatoon residents should stay at home as much as possible on Sunday as the forecasted blizzard rolls into the city, officals say.

Terri Lang, services meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, says the storm could be comparable to the one that hit Saskatoon in 2007, which shut down the city and turned quick commutes into hours-long journeys.

"We don't get these types of systems very often in Saskatoon. These Colorado lows are real snowmakers," Lang said. "We haven't seen one of these in the city for a very long time.… It has the makings to be a very significant storm."

So far, Lang says, the storm is unfolding as expected. Ten centimetres of snow is expected today but that's just the beginning, with up to 40 cm of snow expected in the city on Sunday.

The snow is expected to pick up Sunday morning and continue throughout the day before easing off overnight, Lang says.

Strong winds are also expected, creating widespread blizzard conditions in and around the city.

Pamela Goulden-McLeod, the city's director of emergency management organization, has moved the city to a Level 2 alert from Level 1, which means there's a higher degree of co-ordination between "critical infrastructure partners." 

Because everyone is prepared for the coming storm, she says doesn't expect having to move to Level 3, the highest level in the system.

Goulden-McLeod recommended doing errands on Saturday in order to cut down on traffic on the roads Sunday.

"Ensure you have what you need for tomorrow and Monday.… We really want as few people as possible out and about on Sunday."

City officials are urging motorists to stay off the roads on Sunday to avoid scenes like this one from Saskatoon's 2007 blizzard. (Geoff Howe/Canadian Press)

She also recommends ensuring electronics are charged and asking friends and family members who might need more assistance what you can do to help.

She doesn't recommend travel within the city or on highways, but says if you must travel, to carry an emergency kit with you and to let someone know where you're going and when you're expected to arrive.

People should also give themselves extra time to get to work or to get kids to school on Monday, Goulden-McLeod says.

City manager Jeff Jorgenson says that although the city is "as ready as [it] possibly can be for this event," there could be power disruptions as well as downed tree limbs, though city crews are prepared to respond to such issues. Transit may also experience delays, he says.

Polling station streets on priority road system

Head of the city's roadways, fleet and support, Goran Saric says crews are already responding to the beginning of the storm by sanding priority roadways. Road crews are gearing up for Sunday's expected blast.

Saric says the effort is going to remain on the busiest streets, but crews will be keeping an eye on polling station streets as well.

"Our plan is to stay on our priority system of roads … to make sure people can get across the city," Saric said. "And if a polling station gets drifted in, the city will respond to that polling station."

Roadway crews have maps with the polling stations and are aware that those streets need to be kept clear as well, he says..

Residents are encouraged to sign up for Notify Now for emergency alerts, and can also find out about service disruptions at twitter.com/YXEServiceAlert.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashleigh Mattern is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon and CBC Saskatchewan.

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